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  Activities, tasks and assignments

Image: pencil and notepaperNomenclature is very varied, so that one teacher’s assignment is another’s activity, and where one uses units, another uses modules. The common features however, tend to be that students are to carry out some sequence or process to meet some objective or purpose. As stated a number of these will hopefully illustrate aspects like group or team work, cooperative or collaborative work and may involve research, analysis, evaluation and reasoned argument. It is the teacher who must determine what emphasis is made, and how this is communicated to the students. Often, this communication is fundamental and deserves more time. Useful combination with e.g. the use of questioning, pre-reading, peer review may help ensure that students are clear what is being attempted, how and why.

Many activities or assignments will benefit from the teacher modelling approaches or clarifying criteria, but sometimes overlooked are the opportunities which exist for students to take on these roles, and e.g. for peer review to reveal the extent of their success at doing so. Assessment for learning might include comment on a blog, electronic voting on a presentation, or ticks on a self assessment criterion match grid. Presentations might include the use of video or the production of a podcast. Debates might follow considerable research, evaluation, critical analysis and lead to a rehearsed reasoned argument or the discussion of an argument map e.g.

Unleaded petrol and Bioethanol both contain carbon and hydrogen and release carbon dioxide when used as fuel. Which fuel is “greener” and why? Use the site, starting with the Science section: Combustion to research your answer which should be produced as a 5 slide presentation showing both sides of any argument and your own conclusion(s).

Again, even when based on available resources, final use requires appropriate planning and may “develop” beyond the original resource, even to the point of it being worth re-sharing with the global education community.

Image: teacher student discussionTeam and group discussion have historically required students to be in the same place at the same time, but the option exists now for these to be enabled by technology, so that contributors may be physically remote and may have the choice of live or asynchronous participation, all of which might be logged, for their own review or for assessment purposes. Team and group activities can be blogged as they proceed.

In terms of activities designed to develop higher order thinking, there is scope for the use of concept or mind maps to help articulate difficult relationships and to share meaning and these can be exported simply e.g. as outlining for a piece of structured writing. Where e.g. comprehension or précis have tended to be individual activities, sharing with Web 2.0 tools can make them a group activity, whilst preserving the option to assess individual contributions. Oral presentations are sometimes difficult for students, but changing from live to podcasted versions offers new possibilities, enabling some honing of performance unavailable in the one shot live delivery and providing a record for review or assessment.

  Educational Global Climate Modelling (A-level/staff) – exercises and modelling software
Free Federal Resources foe Educational Excellence (activities, investigations)
DFID sponsored searchable resource base with some free resources including activities and plans
Carleton College – “Starting Point”- Longer Activities
Teachers' Guide to High Quality Educational Materials on Climate Change and Global Warming (activities and lesson plans)
Classroom Tools to Explore the Past, Present and Future of Climate Change (activities)

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